Who’re You Calling a Whore?

Before taking this class, when I thought of sex work I thought of prostitution, and though I told myself I was “keeping an open mind” I never truly understood how women could be empowered and actually LOVE being involved in sex work. I guess you could say I was a feminist who thought that prostitution, stripping, and sex work was a system where women were always oppressed and victims of the patriarchal society that we live in. After reading Who’re You Calling a Whore?: A Conversation with Three Sex Workers on Sexuality, Empowerment, and the Industry, I really started to question the negative opinions I had on sex workers. Susan, Mariko and Saundra completely embody and stand behind their experiences in sex work. I think that society portrays sex work as dangerous, disempowering, and that women are always victims in the industry. As women, we are told that after you graduate high school you must further your education in order to get a good job, because you don’t want to “end” up like the girl stripping down at the local bar. Society has taught us that women in the sex industry don’t necessarily choose to be a part of it, but have to in order to support themselves and their families. To Susan, Mariko and Saundra being in the sex industry is their job, not any different than being a teacher or carpenter. As Saundra says “an exploited woman is one who is not comfortable in her line of work, does not enjoy what she is doing, and is only doing it out desperation, coercion, or it seemed like the only way to make easy money.” This can be experienced in any profession; woman doctors or salesperson’s can be exploited and sexually harassed in their work place just the same as women in sex work.

This conversation showed me how empowering sex work can be for some women, who truly enjoy their job. Mariko explained that sexuality is powerful and that experimenting with that superiority can be very interesting. I realized that for some women being a part of the sex industry may be a way of going against the sexist and patriarchal world that we are all a part of. Being in control of the situation and of the men you encounter must be so empowering, especially if your previous sexual experiences have been characterized by inequality, or even rape. Susan explained that “if a woman has the strength and desire to deconstruct and reconstruct societal views of sexuality for herself, and on her own terms, she is more likely to come from a place of empowerment.” I love this statement! I no longer have negative views of women who are in the sex work industry; I may even be a bit jealous of their strength. How incredible would it be to deconstruct the way society views sexuality!

I’ll finish by quoting Susan one more time. “We don’t even merit the basic human and civil rights that non-sex-working citizens are entitled to – such as protection by law enforcement, due and just process under the judicial system, or even simple common decency from our fellow humans.” Do I even need to address how wrong that is?!

NO WOMAN IS FREE UNTIL PROSTITUTES ARE FREE!

-Tracie Henderson

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5 thoughts on “Who’re You Calling a Whore?

  1. Cortney says:

    I have to agree with what Tracie said. When I thought of sex work I thought a lot of similar thoughts that Tracie did. Now after spending a few classes on the topic and a lot of reading I think a lot differently. I personally feel that the conversation of these women is what really changed my direction of thinking. They have all faced these issues and experienced things I have never experienced nor understood. This blog post is fantastic and on behalf of myself (and I am sure other fellow students) I would say that I had the same thoughts running through my head while reading Who’re You Calling a Whore?: A Conversation with Three Sex Workers on Sexuality, Empowerment, and the Industry.

    Great Job Tracie!!

    PS. Can anyone answer my question? (don’t judge if it seems stupid).
    What is screening? HAHA!

    -Cortney

  2. B. Chartrand says:

    I understand the concept this post was trying to incorporate and relate back to the material which was great by the way but it just makes me wonder about all the rest of the sex workers that were hardly mentioned. I mean a few stories from a few sex workers does not really shed light on the real issues or concerns about sex work. Sex work, Prostitution and sex traffickers are all different concepts with different liabilities. I think stripping; private escorts and call overs are different from the vulnerable young teen walking the streets at night. Although , Who’re You Calling a Whore?: A Conversation with Three Sex Workers on Sexuality, Empowerment, and the Industry , was a great read at exploring the different issues about emotions that are involved.

    Great blog post Tracie, it was really informative, understanding and educational. I would also have to agree with this logic, a person can be exploited within any profession.

    -B.chartrand

  3. fembu14 says:

    Great comments folks!

  4. fembu14 says:

    Fantastic blog post, Tracie! I too, shared your original thoughts on women in sex work however had my eyes opened by not only this reading, but this class. Your blog post is very relate-able and incredibly insightful and powerful. Great job!
    -Kelsey S

  5. sydneycs6 says:

    This realization hit me so hard, I actually changed the topic of my paper to “sex work is work”. It’s strange that so many people don’t take the time to actually look at the situation these men and women are in, or to ask how they feel. I managed to contact a sex worker for my paper and she actually gave me so many different perspectives I never thought could have existed in this line of work (ya that’s right, I said work). She told me that she enjoys it! I was blown away! In my mind these men and women were just doing it because they were druggy drop outs who had nothing else to do. But I was so unbelievably wrong! The girl I talked to told me that she likes what she does, she feels empowered knowing that people will pay to “spend time with her”. She makes enough to support herself and her son. And that’s the whole reason she started. She was a young mom working minimum wage and just couldn’t make it by. She said she started out thinking it was a horrible thing for anyone to do and by the time she was a week in, she said it changed her life. She can now afford everything without worry and even put her boy into sports, that she couldn’t afford before. She’s going next year to get her GED and she’s trying to better herself. People need to realize that while it’s not the classiest profession, it’s sometimes the only option, and the men and women who do it should be safe while doing it.

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